Peninsula Panthers getting minutes from young players

Peninsula's Junior B hockey team is competing, but have a lot to learn.

Panthers’ goalie Liam Tutte sprawls to push away the puck from a Kerry Park Islanders’ attacker Saturday night up-Island.

NORTH SAANICH — Peninsula Panthers’ new bench boss Brad Tippett is a positive man who sees the glass as half-full and not half-empty.

As he says, “If you can’t see the glass as half-full it’s probably time to get a smaller glass.”

Tippett’s Peninsula Panthers dropped a tough 5-4 loss at home Friday night against the visiting Comox Valley Glacier Kings and then on Saturday travelled to Mill Bay and were knocked off 6-1 by the Islanders.

Josh Poland and rookie Jack McMillan each scored twice for the local squad in the Friday match, but it was not quite enough.

Goaltender Liam Tutte absorbed the loss, blocking 24 of 29 shots directed his way.

“We have had great progress but tonight we took a step back. We need some more commitment and bite,” said Tippett.

On Saturday evening in Mill Bay the Club seemed to respond to Tippett’s challenge, raced up and down and competed, save for a seven-minute span in the first period.

The Islanders scored the only goal in the opening period when Tutte was beat from in close, however the Panthers could have easily have been up a couple. Jarrod Lucoe opened the scoring in the second to knot the score at 1-1.

Lucoe raced in on a breakaway and made no mistake, lifting the puck to the top of the Islanders’ net.

Penalties midway through the frame changed the game and the Islanders scored four times in a span of eight minutes to go up 5-1 after 40 minutes.

“The first period was our best twenty minutes of the year,” explained the veteran coach.  “They were taking restraining penalties because of our speed.  You had to know the penalties were going to get evened up and we ended up playing a big chunk of the second period short-handed.

“Killing penalties one after another evaporated the momentum we had established and that seven minute stretch sunk us,” said Tippett.

He liked the game and effort, however was disappointed with some lazy penalties and with a lack of discipline.

Tippett said he knows his young squad has key players out with injuries but said the situation will help his squad in the long run.

“The younger guys are benefiting from being in significant roles right now.

“Up front, I thought that Joe Stafford-Veale, Carson Cox and Jarrod Lucoe all had their best games.

“Zack Evans answered the bell when he was jumped by a well-known tough 20-year-old. To a man we were better than Friday — the scoreboard was not fair to us on Saturday.”

The Panthers will be in Victoria to play the Cougars on Thursday evening and will then be back into the friendly confines of the Panorama Recreation Centre on Friday night when they will get another shot against the Islanders.

The puck is set to drop at 7:30 p.m.

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